I don't use Google Chrome on Android; while the browser offers good compatibility and performance, its lack of support for extensions and thus content-blocking is what puts me off. I don't mind advertisement on sites provided that the ads are not intrusive or annoying; I tend to allow ads on sites that I value as I don't want these sites to go away because of a lack of funding.
One browser that I decided to take a look at on my Pixel 3a device was the Android version of Brave. You can check out our first look at Brave on Windows to get an overview of the desktop version.
Brave is a controversial browser; there is one side that likes Brave's attempt at solving the current advertisement, privacy, and monetization crisis on the Internet. Criticism centers around Brave's ad replacement plans and it is leveled at the browser not only from Internet publications that rely on advertising revenue but also users who believe that they trade the classic advertising model for just another.
I'm a light user when it comes to mobiles and mobile browsing. I use mobile browsers for the occasional lookup and search, but that is about it.
Brave can be downloaded from Google Play. The browser has a 4.3 out of 5 rating on Google Play based on about 112k ratings. For comparison, Firefox Mobile has a rating of 4.4 based on 3.27 million votes, Opera a rating of 4.6 based on 2.91 million votes, and Chrome a rating of 4.3 based on 16.36 million votes. The other browsers have been around for longer.
The browser is based on Chromium which means that it uses the same core as Google Chrome. Web compatibility support and performance is excellent because of that.
Brave for Android comes with an integrated advertisement blocker that works similarly to the implementation in Brave for the desktop. The Shields feature is enabled by default and it blocks ads, tracking, and third-party cookies by default on all sites that you visit. You can increase the protection further by enabling script blocking and fingerprint protection.
The ad-blocking works fine on most sites; you may notice that some ads are still displayed but these are usually not of the annoying kind. You could enable script blocking on sites that still display advertisement as this should take care of these ad units as well but it may impact site functionality as well. The script blocking functionality does not provide options to allow or block specific scripts.
Protections can be enabled or disabled globally, and for individual sites. You find those options and others under Privacy in the settings. I have changed some options in Brave.
I changed the default search engine of the browser. It was set to Qwant which never really worked that well for my German queries. I switched to Startpage which is my default search engine on the desktop. Brave picks up search engines as you visit sites so that it should not be a problem selecting another search engine. You may set different search engines for standard and private tabs in the Settings.
A Welcome Tour includes options to pick a search engine from the default selection of search providers.
The browser remembers passwords, payment methods, and addresses by default; all of these options can be turned off. Note that you cannot install extensions in Brave for Android; the installation of password managers is not supported because of that.
Brave displays a bottom toolbar by default and an URLbar at the top. You can disable the bottom toolbar to move its elements to the top, and switch between the default light and dark themes either automatically or pick one manually.
Brave's settings include a couple of surprises that may be overlooked. The browser has an option to enable background video playback, manage notifications for the Browser and visited sites, enable syncing between other Brave versions, and change the scaling of text to force larger or smaller text sizes on all sites.
HTTPS Everywhere is integrated in Brave for Android. The default new tab page lists the number of HTTPS upgrades, ads and trackers that the browser blocked, and the estimated time it saved you.
Brave Rewards is integrated in the browser. It is an optional feature that you don't need to enable. Basically, what it allows you to do is earn tokens by viewing ads that Brave provides.
These ads are based on interests inferred from browsing behavior that never leaves the browser according to Brave. You earn BAT currency and may spend it currently using the auto-contribute feature or tips feature.
Later on, you will be able to turn the virtual currency into money if you want, but for now, you may support sites that you like or tip people directly.
The blocking of ads sets Brave apart from Google Chrome. Blocking means that pages load faster, that privacy is better, and that you will save battery in the process as well. Brave is not the only browser on Android that supports ad-blocking though.
Opera supports it too, and Firefox users may install extensions to block ads on mobile. In fact, Firefox is one of the few browsers that supports extensions on mobile right now. Whether that is going to change when the switch to the new Firefox for Mobile is made remains to be seen.
Browsing works really well on Brave for Android and while I wish that the browser would offer more granular controls for its content blocking and script blocking functionality, it is probably not a feature that is suitable for the masses.
All in all, I have to say that I like Brave a lot better than Google Chrome on Android. It has all the advantages but fewer disadvantages than Chrome.
Now you: which mobile browser do you use and why?Advertisement
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.